Category: Theatre


Bibliodrama

Oh my goodness I am going to pee my pants.

Yes, I am a little embarrassed to admit I was laughing like a five-year-old. Ted Swartz, one of the fabulous actors of the group “TheaterWorks” joined the conference yesterday and brought a new twist to some of the most over-sermonized stories in scripture.

He began as God, a hugely approachable being completely delighted by the possibilities of his latest creation. Next he portrayed Paul, an angry man still reeling from his experience on the road to Damascus and a bit shocked at his new calling. (side note: between this portrayal and Brian McLaren’s loving presentation of Paul’s writing, I am willing to give this commentator another chance. I haven’t read Paul in several years.)

Next Ted played Peter at the wedding in Cana. Oh, the Peter we all love…opening his mouth and inserting his foot. Peter who wasn’t actually invited, but was “called”…not so funny when you describe it, but absolutely beautifully rendered in comedy.

And then Ted was a cow. Standing in a field. Or perhaps a meadow. Eating, ruminating. Because, you see, we are all cows in a field. Meadow. And faith is like the hay and the grass. “Chew it up and pass it on.”

Sometimes we need to laugh–at ourselves and our idols. Sometimes our doctrines qualify as the latter.

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Some of you know that I grew up in the church of Christ, a denomination which believes that by eschewing instruments in worship, they are reading the NT perfectly literally. Setting aside the theological issues, I know this–I appreciate a capella singing in a way that few others in the world can!

This past Sunday I joined my parents at their church and felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me as the song leader blew into his pitch pipe and the congregation “tuned up.” Seriously. By the second or third note of each song, we had full four-part harmony, typically with no books or written music because they are now posting song lyrics on an overhead. It’s a new church plant with nearly 200 members and boy can those people sing!

For me, the purest moment in God’s presence happens through music. It doesn’t matter if I am signing, playing, listening to something, writing a song, leading worship or Christmas carols–God is there in a tangible way for me.

So it was quite a shock when a dear friend at a former church job confessed to me that she didn’t like music and found ways to avoid the “worship service” at our church.

That was the moment I became enthralled with the idea of immersive worship–finding ways beyond music to help people meet God in the same way I do with music. I’m afraid a lot of the worship pastors at churches don’t give much consideration to the people who are not musical. It takes more work than some worship pastors have time to put in, honestly. But I am dedicated to those ideas.

So I asked my friend what would help her worship. This particular lady loved to write short dramatic scripts. I worked with the pastor to create a position for her on the worship team in which she wrote and directed a short play or skit in every corporate service. Many more people wanted to be involved in her drama ministry than in my worship ministry! That was compelling to me.

Yes, I know. Drama ministries are not new. The big difference was that this one wasn’t slick, professional, or paid. Nor was it run by the youth group and simply tolerated by the church. It was fully implemented into each worship service and themed series. She called on different members of the congregation each week to be a part of it. Every piece was original–written by my friend or someone else in the congregation. We immersed people in the creative experience and week after week someone new asked if they could get involved.

Being creative doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel–maybe simply redesigning it to fit the group you work with.